Wireless Carriers Are Making Your Android Smartphone Vulnerable to Hackers

by Istvan Fekete on February 7, 2013

Each time security research companies issue a report about how mobile operating systems perform, BlackBerry and iOS get the top spot, while Android gets a hit. Why? Because wireless carriers leave you, dear Android user, vulnerable to hackers.

The explanation is pretty straightforward: How does iOS and Android adoption look? To take the latest numbers from Onwsipe, in just two days after the release of iOS 6.1 more than 22% of iOS users had already upgraded their device to the latest operating system.

What about Android, the mobile OS that has over 70% of global market share? Well, the picture looks very different in this area: Although Jelly Bean 4.2 was released quite some while ago, on November 13, 2012, its adoption rate is stuck at 13.6% as of February, while Ice Cream Sandwich has been downloaded to 29% of the available Android devices, although it was released on October 19, 2011. The biggest share is held by Gingerbread (45%), released on December 6, 2010.

There are two main issues: Android market fragmentation (Samsung alone has roughly 80 devices for sale) and secondly, each update has to go through your wireless carrier. Now, it seems like they are more concerned about pushing out new devices than updating the mobile subscriber’s smartphone to the latest operating system.

In other words, is doesn’t matter if Google is notified about malware and fires back by issuing a patch, your Android device will only get the update if it goes through the carrier’s testing phase, gets packed into a firmware update, etc. In other words, it can take months. “Hardware makers are slow to provide fixes to vulnerabilities because it’s not cost-effective for them. When Google updates Android, engineers have to modify it for each phone or chip that relies on the operating system, which is time-intensive and takes away from the work engineers would rather spend developing new versions of the phone,” Wired informs.

DuoSecurity released a study last fall, publishing some stunning findings: About half of the sampled Android devices had unfixed vulnerabilities, even though there were patches from Google that were available to them.

To get the full picture: While Apple issues an update, and iOS devices users upgrade over the air or via iTunes, and I am referring to each user, Android owners are the victims of the “game” manufacturers and wireless carriers play — they blame each other for the delays. The result: consumers are left with outdated devices vulnerable to hacker attack.

Written by: Istvan Fekete. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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